One Degree, Many Paths: Students Ponder
by Sheila Smith Noonan
With their own careers on the horizon,
senior New Jersey Dental School students feasted on the experiences
of dentists whose interests and abilities have taken them beyond
the path of private practice.
It was all part of the "New Horizons in Dentistry"
program, now in its second year. The series of six lunch-hour
sessions featured distinguished New Jersey dentists working in
such diverse areas as politics and insurance. This year's guest
lecturers included Dr. Michael Barnett, Warner-Lambert Co.; Dr.
Richard Curro, Block Drug; Dr. Harmon Katz, Mid-Jersey Endodontics
and president of the American Endodontic Society; Dr. Henry Finger,
president of the N.J. State Board of Dentistry and ADA Trustee-District
IV; Dr. Gerald Sydell, chairman of the board of Delta Dental
Plan of New Jersey; and Assemblyman Dr. Michael J. Arnone.
Each speaker in the series, which was underwritten by the Colgate-Palmolive
Company, emphasized that a D.M.D. degree can be a license to
explore limitless opportunities.
The state house, for example, is within reach for dentists, said
Dr. Arnone, a New Jersey assemblyman since 1989. "People
feel good about dentists and trust them with their dental care,"
he notes. "That may have contributed to people trusting
me with their vote."
Dr. Arnone, a Republican and the former mayor of Red Bank, N.J.,
believes dentistry and politics can be a smart combination. Rather
than complain about managed care, rising costs, reduced fees,
and politicians' decisions, get involved in the process, he reasons.
"We should be concerned not only about our patients' oral
health, but with the health of our communities in general terms,"
says Dr. Arnone. "When dentists enter politics, it's good
for dentistry and their towns."
Dr. Finger believes young dentists need to become involved in
organized dentistry, the education of dental students, and the
regulatory realm. He's been involved in all threeas well
as civic activities and alumni serviceand found fulfillment
along the way. "It's true that these activities take time
away from the office and the family, " he says. "However,
for 35 years, these have brought me a great amount of satisfaction."
As for his involvement with the state dental board, Dr. Finger
takes a pro-active approach. "We should be policing our
own profession," he says. "If dentists don't, than
There are many career opportunities for dentists that students
may not have considered, says Dr. Barnett. He developed an interest
in research as a dental student and then took a circuitous route
to his current position as senior director of dental affairs
at Warner-Lambert. Military service, two post-doctoral fellowships,
academic posts, and a hospital department chairmanship were steps
that led him to the pharmaceutical company in 1987.
Dr. Barnett, a visiting faculty member at NJDS, also advises
students to consider the opportunities that participation in
professional groups can bring. "There can be much satisfaction
in the governing of professional organizations and many opportunities
for leadership," says Dr. Barnett, formerly a member-at-large
of the board of directors of the American Association for Dental
Research. Currently, he serves on the boards of directors of
the ADA Health Foundation and The Friends of the National Institute
of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
For Dr. Sydell, an insurance career was a natural extension of
his commitment to public health. "In 1966 I opened a private
practice in Cranford and soon became a school dentist. I was
alarmed by the amount of caries I saw in those children, and
even more disturbed to learn that fewer than 50 percent of Americans
received routine dental care," he says. As dental insurance
became a more common component of employee benefit packages,
he read the charter of the Dental Service Corporationthe
predecessor to Delta Dentaland thought, "This company
has a commitment to serve people in this state." Over time,
Dr. Sydell's involvement in Delta Dental grew, and today he's
a de facto liaison between organized dentistry and the insurance
Dr. Curro, vice president/director of corporate clinical and
medical affairs at Block Drug, maintains that whatever road the
students choose, what matters most is the integrity and ethics
that they adhere to. "These define the moral character that
enables dentists to interact with patients, and they remain constant.
What changes is the dentist's personal message and measure of
success," says Dr. Curro. "Dentists should also be
continuing their education to accept new technologies that alter
the treatment paradigms above and beyond what they learned in
"The value of New Horizons may not be fully realized for
several years, until students who've attended the program venture
out to pursue interests 'outside the box' of traditional dentistry,"
says Dr. Arnold H. Rosenheck, assistant dean of Hospital Affairs
and Institutional Development.
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Many noteworthy events have been taking
place at New Jersey Dental School. As president of the Student
Government Association, I would like to share some of these activities
with the alumni.
The school's student organizations have had many reasons to celebrate:
- The NJDS Chapter of the Student National
Dental Association won the Scrapbook of the Year award at the
organization's conference earlier this year.
- At an American Student Dental Association
conference, the newsletter Centric Relations was awarded best
nameplate and design.
- David Caggiano ('01) was the ASDA's
Region II Delegate of the Year and the National Delegate of the
Speaking of award winners, the student
winner of the Michael Balbo Award for research, Anup Munduli
('01), attended the ADA conference in Hawaii. His topic was "Tyrasine
Sulfation of Statherin by Human Saliva" under the guidance
of Dr. Kasinathan. Anup presented this research in Hawaii, at
the Dental Conference in Atlantic City, and at the Greater New
York Dental Meeting.
Back at school, the 3rd Annual Family Day was held in November
for first-year students and their families. Among the highlights
was a short video in which Mr. Bean visited the dentist. The
attendees found the satire quite humorous. Dr. Fotinos Panagakos
('92) explained the new VSTi computer system, which incorporates
the entire dental curriculum on computer. Twelve students each
from the first and second year classes are participating in a
pilot for the system, in which half received all textbooks required
for their courses and the other half are using computers containing
the same information as the books. After lunch, the families
were taken to various stations, including pre-clinic, clinic,
intraoral photography, gross anatomy, and orthodontics.
This spring, the Class of '01 will be running the Hindsight Program,
a mentoring program designed to provide second-year students
with practical hints to survive clinic. As you may recall, adjusting
to this new environment can be somewhat stressful. All of a sudden
there are live patients sitting in your dental chair (a big change
from the manikin heads in pre-clinic, who did not have much to
say about the procedures done). Every student receives a manual
that explains the nuts and bolts of clinic, from how to fill
out a competency form to each discipline's requirements. Next
spring, it will be the Class of '02's turn to continue the program
and pass on their insight.
Our busy year is drawing to a close, and some of us will soon
be joining you as alumni. We appreciate your continuing support
of the school and the students.
Denise Fleischmann ('00)
Student Government Association President
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An Eventful Fete
Dr. Satish C. Mullick ('76) and other
Asian Indians organized the first Dushara Festival in New Jersey.
The festival, which in the Hindu religion celebrates the triumph
of good over evil, drew about 10,000 people to the East Brunswick
fairgrounds last October.For his efforts, Dr. Mullick was recognized
by Governor Christie Todd Whitman for community service. The
governor, her husband, and other dignitaries, including mayors
and members of Congress, attended the event, which showcased
the Asian Indian culture. Traditional dances and food, crafts,
and children's rides were all part of the day, which was capped
off by fireworks. A highlight, says Dr. Mullick, was the burning
of an effigy of the evil king Ravana.
"There has been a Festival of Dushara in Long Island for
several years, but we felt there was sufficient interest to have
one of our own in New Jersey," says Dr. Mullick, who has
a private practice in Springfield, N.J. "By doing so, Asian
Indians in the state have the opportunity to celebrate their
culture and to share it with all people."
Plans are under way for the Second Annual Dushara Festival, to
be held next fall. With the popularity of the first festival,
says Dr. Mullick, a professor of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials
at NJDS, it's likely they will be looking for a larger venue.
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